The 2013-14 regular legislative session ended last week and legislators and the governor will shift their focus to the fall elections.
PROFS was very active in the legislative process, meeting with more than a dozen legislators and staff on several issues.
AB 729, a bill that will allow classified research on UW System campuses, was passed by the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature. PROFS registered in favor of this bill.
The governor recently signed many bills into law:
- SB 655, a bill that included many changes to campaign finance laws. Under the new law, lobbyists may make election-year contributions to legislative candidates after April 15. Current law limits such contributions to June 1 or later.
- SB 324, a bill that limits in-person early voting to weekdays from 8 am to 7 pm. Early voting on weekends will not be allowed. The governor vetoed a provision in the bill that would have limited early voting to 45 hours per week.
- AB 202, a bill that would allow election observers as close as three feet from the tables where voters announce their names and addresses before receiving a number to vote.
- SB 300, a bill that would require insurers to cover oral chemotherapy in the same way that intravenous chemotherapy is covered.
- AB 726, a bill that would allow marijuana oil to be used as a treatment for seizure disorders.
Board of Regents
Governor Scott Walker named four new members to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents last month. The governor appointed José Delgado and Eve Hall to replace outgoing Regents John Drew and Gary Roberts. Delgado and Hall will serve seven year terms beginning May 1.
Walker appointed UW-Madison student Nicolas Harsy to a two year term, serving as the non-traditional student regent and appointed UW-La Crosse student Anicka Purath to complete the two-year traditional student term being vacated by UW-Platteville student Chad Landes who is graduating in May and leaving the board early.
Governor Scott Walker will face Democrat Mary Burke in November, and twenty legislators have announced they will retire at the end of their term or pursue higher office.
The following senators have announced they will retire at the end of their term:
- Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville)
- Senator Bob Jauch (R-Poplar)
- Senator John Lehman (D-Racine)
- Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center)
The following assembly members will not run again:
- Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton)
- Rep. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland)
- Rep. Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay)
- Rep. Fred Clark (D-Baraboo)
- Rep. Mike Endsley (R-Sheboygan)
- Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah)
- Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake)
- Rep. John Klenke (R-Green Bay)
- Rep. Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha)
- Rep. Dan LeMahieu (R-Cascade)
- Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green)
- Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Shorewood)
- Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee)
- Rep. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville)
- Rep. Pat Strachota (R-West Bend)
- Rep. Erik Severson (R-Osceola)
- Rep. Mary Williams (R-Medford)
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell announced last week he would resign in July to become the first lay leader of Marquette University. Lovell’s departure after three-and-a-half years as chancellor came as a surprise to the greater Milwaukee community.
UW-Milwaukee has long enjoyed a good relationship with the Milwaukee business community, and Lovell maintained those close ties. Many of those business leaders recognize the importance to a strong public university system.
Sheldon Lubar, a former regent president and contributor to UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and Marquette University noted the legislature’s recent treatment of UW System had an impact:
The UW System is the most important — without a rival second — the most important institution in the state, and the success of our community in Milwaukee and every community in our state is dependent on a highly educated citizenry. The university is not just a punching bag and a place you can take money from without any regard to what its impact is.
Lubar was referring to the controversy last year surrounding budget reserves. Lovell strongly defended the reserves and maintained that reserves are necessary to protect the institution from unexpected budget shortfalls.
Karen Herzog and Bill Glauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote Sunday that Lovell’s announcement comes as UW-Milwaukee is at a significant crossroads:
Several major construction projects are well underway, but others are still in the design phase and haven’t been funded. The university’s strategic plan is not settled — although Lovell vowed it will be finished by August, when he moves to Marquette. A massive campaign to raise hundreds of millions of dollars is just a year away. Enrollment has declined in the last three freshman classes, leading to work on a new enrollment strategy. Faculty turnover is distressing.
Geography professor Mark Schwartz, chair of UW-Milwaukee’s University Committee, told the Journal Sentinel that the university is underfunded and the legislature must decide what kind of university it is willing to fund:
The one good thing that comes from this at some level is putting it in the hands of the state and (UW) System to really define what they want us to be. We want candidates to come in with a question mark about our status and our role in the future.
Spring 2014 elections will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. While most races on the ballot are local and non-partisan, voters in Dane County will be asked their preferences on two legislative issues, including one on redistricting legislation:
DANE COUNTY REFERENDUM #1
“Should the Wisconsin Constitution be amended to require a nonpartisan system for redistricting legislative and congressional districts in the state?”
PROFS is registered in support of AB 185/SB 163, bills that would change the way the state draws legislative and congressional districts every ten years. The bills would shift the work of redistricting from the Legislature to the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB).
A second referendum asks voters if the state should legalize marijuana.
Voters can check their registration status, learn more about local races, and find where to vote on the MyVoteWisconsin website.